The media we're consuming is consuming us

Sorry Carrie Bradshaw, but Vogue isn't a sustainable diet

Our Instagrams are cluttered with expensive clothes, and our Twitters with pricey food. We indulge in watching makeup tutorials and clothing hauls with products that cost more than our rent. On our Netflix binges we obsess over Rachel's clothes, Monica’s apartment and Jess’ friends.

We dream about beginning our careers and attaining these “perfect” lives. However, as graduation approaches we begin to realize that career-life might not live up to our expectations. The media we’re consuming is making us feel like failures because our lives don’t look like our favorite sitcoms.

Our generation can get very focused on creating the perfect image of life. "Aesthetic" is in our everyday vocabulary. However, at some point we have to stop and wonder how realistic and healthy it is to base our goals off of an ideal.

“Comparing your life to the media, whatever form it might take, sets up expectations that most students and recent graduates cannot meet,” Timothy Jordan, psychologist and retired professor, said. “This can lead to unhealthy views of one’s success and ability, creating a cycle of unrealistic standards.”

Don’t get me wrong, Netflix binges are fun, and social media is a wonderful tool that allows us to connect with others. But when we begin to buy into the idea that our lives are supposed to look like a picture, we feel inevitably defeated.

We need to step back and realize that nobody's life resembles a romantic comedy. Very few people can afford the right clothes, the perfect apartment and the trendiest food. We’re broke college students, not Upper East Siders.

Look at your favorite TV shows, there's no way those characters could realistically afford their apartments and clothes. My favorite example is Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in Sex and the City.

Carrie is just a journalist who writes a column called "Sex and the City." Yet somehow she lives in a fantastic apartment in Manhattan. The average salary for a journalist in New York City is $56,546, and Carrie's apartment costs around $1,000,000. Something's wrong with this picture.

It gets even more ridiculous when we examine Carrie’s closet. Her wardrobe consists of nothing but expensive luxury couture. Her giant walk-in closet is overflowing with Manolo Blahnik’s and Versace cocktail dresses, which she wears to fabulously expensive clubs, dinners and parties.

To top it all off, one of Carrie’s most iconic lines is "When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more."

In a couple of sentences Carrie sums up the absurdity of the idea that the media advocates. We feel like we’re failing because we’re eating instead of reading vogue because we’re saving for grad school instead of forking over more than half our paychecks to live in an ultra hip loft.

While it’s okay to want these things, we have to realize we’re not failing because we can’t afford these lavish lives portrayed in the media we consume.

We need to pause and realize that if we’re working toward our goals, we’re in the right place. The media can’t define what success looks like if we don't allow it to. So let's stop letting the media dictate our images of success. If we base our ideas of success on what feels healthy for us we’ll be able abandon the cycle of comparison. We are much more likely to experience happiness and success if we define what that looks like ourselves.

Reach the columnist at or follow @skyjordan15 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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